Albany, NY - July 17, 2015 - The Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) action plan to combat aquatic invasive species (AIS) and protect New York's natural resources and economy will be implemented across New York State, Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. DEC announced completion of the Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan which provides a statewide framework for the state and its partners to address the threat presented by AIS. The plan updates the 1993 Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Comprehensive Management Plan.
"New York State has experienced an increasing unwanted presence of aquatic invasive species that have entered our cherished waters from Buffalo to Long Island and in some of the state's more protective natural areas," said Commissioner Martens. "Invasive species threatens ecosystems, outdoor recreation and water quality. We ask that New Yorkers remain vigilant to guard against the introduction of aquatic invasive species as DEC implements programs across the state to address this problem. The new plan provides updated strategies to help this effort."
Aquatic invasive species threaten the ecology of New York's vast freshwater resource and can seriously impede the recreational, commercial and municipal use of waterbodies, impact local economies and reduce waterfront property values. AIS such as zebra mussels, spiny waterflea and round goby have been transported into this country via ocean going vessels that transport the undesirable species in ballast water.
New York is particularly vulnerable to AIS due to the easy access that ocean-going vessels have to the Great Lakes and the ease by which these species can spread via the state's canal system. Aquatic invasive species can also find their way into New York State through the live animal, nursery and landscape trades. Once in New York State AIS are primarily spread by humans, either purposely though their direct release, or incidentally through recreational boating and angling.
"DEC received 298 comments on the draft plan and where appropriate, these comments have been incorporated into the final plan," added Commissioner Martens. "We thank the public for their interest in and improvements to this plan."
A summary of the responses are included in the plan appendix. Some of the priority actions identified in the plan include:
- Expanding the network of boat launch stewards statewide;
- Developing an AIS response framework that will guide decision making when AIS are detected and communicate the reason for the response selected;
- Implementing an AIS public awareness campaign and evaluating its effectiveness in reaching target audiences;
- Expanding the use of AIS disposal stations to provide a convenient location for disposal of AIS removed from boats at waterway access sites;
- Establishing regional first responder AIS teams to incorporate local expertise in planning and implementing appropriate AIS responses; and
- Identifying and evaluating the risks associated with the various pathways for AIS introduction into and movement within New York State.
"The Nature Conservancy commends Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Martens, and DEC staff for their work comprehensively addressing the threat aquatic invasive species present to New York State's natural resources and economy. New York State's Invasive Species Awareness Week actions, including the release of this important Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan, provide a path forward to safeguard our state's waters from harmful invasive species," said Stuart F. Gruskin, Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer for The Nature Conservancy in New York. "The Nature Conservancy is proud to partner with New York State as strategies are developed and implemented to protect our natural resources and local economies from the adverse impacts of aquatic invasive species."
"The Paul Smith's College Adirondack Watershed Institute fully supports DEC's new AIS management plan," said Dan Kelting, Executive Director, Adirondack Watershed Institute. "This plan codifies the efforts of the many groups involved in AIS education & outreach, rapid response, and management activities throughout New York. As one of the organizations working on the front lines to protect Adirondack waters from AIS, we are especially thrilled to see this new plan and look forward to working with DEC on implementation."
"The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program commends Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for their continued commitment to address the significant threats posed by aquatic invasive species at the statewide scale," said Brendan Quirion, Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy of New York. "The comprehensive and holistic approach, finalized in New York State's Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan, presents a clear path forward to successfully addressing detrimental aquatic plants and animals that pay no heed to regional or jurisdictional boundaries. We are assured that all of New York's abundant water resources as well as the local economies that depend on them will be better protected through this plan's implementation."
The complete AIS plan can be downloaded from the DEC website.